TikTok is rolling out a new feature today that will allow users to refresh their “For You” page if they feel that the recommendations the algorithm sends their way are no longer relevant or are becoming too repetitive.
In a blog post, the social media app owned by ByteDance said that this is part of an ongoing effort to make people’s feeds more in synch with their ever-evolving content preferences.
In the coming weeks, a Refresh button will be added to the user interface so they can start over as if they just opened a new account on the social media platform.
TikTok is Actively Responding to Both Users’ and Parents’ Requests
This move responds to users growing outcry that the algorithm is sometimes too good at its job of finding content that matches what they usually view, like, and share. This creates loops that reinforce themselves as users keep seeing the same types of videos about similar topics over and over again.
Another way that users can shape their “For You” feed is by letting the algorithm know that they are no longer interested in the content they just saw. Users can do this by clicking the “Not interested” button found on the interface. They can also use this feature to filter out some hashtags that do not match the kind of content they would like to see.
“An inherent challenge of any recommendation system is ensuring the breadth of content surfaced to a viewer isn’t too narrow or too repetitive”, the TikTok team highlighted.
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They added: “We’re intently focused on this challenge, and work to design a system that intersperses a variety of topics”.
In addition, TikTok is enforcing some rules that screen out content that promotes self-destructive behavior while also intentionally reducing the level of exposure that certain negative types of content get.
These efforts come to join a set of new tools and systems that the social media platform is also implementing to protect teenagers from being exposed to unhealthy content. In this regard, TikTok launched this month new parental control features including one that lets caregivers set a maximum daily screen time for their kids.
US Authorities Are Increasingly Seeking an Outright Ban for TikTok
The pressure is mounting within the United States government to ban TikTok from being used within the country as various bills have been pushed forward by legislators from both the House of Representatives and the Senate to this end.
In addition, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) has reportedly given an ultimatum to ByteDance – TikTok’s parent – to sell the app to a non-Chinese entity or otherwise face a ban in the North American country.
Maureen Shanahan, the company’s Director of Global Corporate Communications, said in a statement that a “divestment doesn’t solve the problem” if the goal is to protect the country’s national security.
“A change in ownership would not impose any new restrictions on data flows or access. The best way to address concerns about national security is with the transparent, US-based protection of US user data and systems, with robust third-party monitoring, vetting, and verification, which we are already implementing”, she added.
The US has moved in the direction of isolating TikTok and its access within the government at least by prohibiting users from installing the app on government-issued devices such as smartphones and tablets.
The move comes as multiple agencies that protect the country’s security such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have brought up concerns about the possibility that the app could be used by members of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as a back door to get access to sensitive data.
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